Cork senior hurling manager Kieran Kingston is looking forward to the start of the 2020 National Hurling League but he will have to plan without long-serving midfielder Daniel Kearney.
The Sarsfields player has opted out for the foreseeable future and will not be available for selection for Cork this season at least.
“Daniel’s not involved,” Kingston said.
“We’d love to have him involved, as would the players, but Daniel, for his own reasons, has decided to take some time out from hurling at inter-county level and we respect that decision and wish him the best.
“At this stage, I don’t think we can look at Daniel for 2020. He has been recently made captain of Sars as well and we have to respect his decision. He wanted some time out of inter-county hurling, he’s nine or ten years giving his life to it.
Kingston also expanded on the injuries Cork are dealing with ahead of their NHL season opener this weekend against Waterford.
“Colm Spillane has had some game time but is not fully back. Colm hasn’t played since the county final in 2018. That was his last game.
“We gave him some time against Waterford, he got some time against Limerick, it was the first time he really got a bit of gametime into him which is great. But it’s just a matter of incrementally increasing that as opposed to full exposure too quickly. Back and achilles, he had two injuries so it took a while.
“Alan Cadogan is there or thereabouts, Sunday is probably coming too soon for him.
“Then we have Mark Ellis, Christopher Joyce, more longer term injuries.”
Cork must also deal with a high number of players involved in the Fitzgibbon Cup?
“We’ve only four or five playing midweek this week because UCC don’t have a game and most of our guys that are with the college are with UCC – we’ve 14 with them.
“They were playing yesterday, we must see that they came through okay. I don’t think there’s anything major yet.”
Kingston and his management team will be hoping that Declan Dalton and Ger Millerick came through unscathed last Saturday evening, when both played for Fr O’Neill’s in a narrow defeat to Tullaroan in the All-Ireland intermediate club final.
“Declan’s on our panel and Ger is, they’ve both been there since the start, since we got together in November. Unfortunately we haven’t seen a lot of democracy because they’ve been involved with their clubs.
Kingston also acknowledged that Cork have been integrating players from last year’s U20 squad and the previous year’s U21 team, both of which reached the All-Ireland finals in their grades, losing to Tipperary on both occasions.
“That’s a challenge obviously with the grade having gone from U21 to U20 you’re dealing with an age group that’s a year younger.
“Some may be ready, some may not be, so there’s an integration process that’s like a mini development squad in between – between your u20 grade and your senior.
“And we have a good few of last year’s U20 team, and the previous year’s U21 team, who are on our panel. We’re just building them up and working with them, giving them the best opportunity to compete at senior level because there’s a quite a gap between a 19-year-old and and jumping to senior straightaway.
“We have a good few of those and some come through quicker than others, but you obviously have a core squad and players within that as part of a development squad.”